Will we ever see inkwells replace inkjet cartridges?

HP inkjet printer cartridge return envelope

Photo credit scoobyfoo

HP’s Ed Gemmell contacted me the other day to let me know that

HP will celebrate first anniversary of ‘closed loop’ manufacturing for inket cartridges at end of Jan

I followed the link to see what HP were doing with their inkjet cartridges and, in fairness to them, they seem to be doing some good stuff!. From their release:

HP today announced it has developed an engineering breakthrough that enables the use of post-consumer recycled plastics in the production of new Original HP inkjet print cartridges.

More than 200 million cartridges have been manufactured using the process thus far. HP used more than 5 million pounds of recycled plastic in its inkjet cartridges last year, and the company is committed to using twice as much in 2008…. In addition to closing the design loop, using recycled content saves energy and keeps plastic out of landfills – since first piloting the process, HP has used enough recycled plastic to fill more than 200 tractor trailers….

“HP’s use of recycled plastic in an application as technically demanding as their inkjet cartridges represents an unprecedented engineering innovation,” said Larry Koester, vice president of Communications, Environmental Division, Society of Plastics Engineers. “This remarkable achievement comes after many years of perseverance and ingenuity by HP and their partners.”

So all very laudable, and recognised as such by the Society of Plastics Engineers, kudos to HP.

However, if HP wanted to be really Green about its inkjet printer cartridges it would make them completely re-usable. I should only have to buy one cartridge ever (or possible one per colour). I should then be able to buy ink refills in fully bio-degradeable packaging to re-fill my cartridge every time it runs out.

This would be a truly Green advancement in inkjet printing and to my knowledge, there is no technical barrier to this happening. Is it likely to happen any time soon? I guess that depends just how serious inkjet manufacturers are about being Green.

In fact, come to think of it, there should be no such thing as inkjet cartridges. If there is only to be one for the lifetime of the printer, it should be embedded, not removable. An inkwell, not a cartridge, into which I pour my refill.


  1. says

    I like the inkwell idea. Someone involved in the manufacturing of printers once tried to explain to me why it couldn’t work, but I didn’t really understand what he was saying. I’d prefer not to refill cartridges myself, but if there is a just a well where you pour the ink I would love that.